Thiruvananthapuram/Palakkad: As opposition parties stepped up protests, including a 100-hour stir by the BJP, the Kerala Government on Tuesday decided to appeal against the trial court's verdict to acquit the accused in the case related to the death of two sisters at Walayar in Kerala's Palakkad district.
The decision has been taken at a high-level meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.
The government has also decided to replace the public prosecutor in the case with a senior advocate.
NCSC slams police
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Tuesday said it would summon the state chief secretary and the DGP on the sexual assault and killing of two minor sisters in Palakkad district in 2017.
After visiting the house of the deceased siblings at Walayar in Palakkad, Commission vice chairman L Murugan alleged that police was not showing any interest in investigating the matter and even a witness was summoned but his statement was not recorded.
"Even from the beginning, they (Police) were not showing any interest to investigate. And some political influence was also there as the mother (of deceased siblings) pointed out... How, in a democracy, the prosecution failed to put forward the case before the court," he told reporters.
The commission has decided to take up the case and after preliminary inquiry, it took cognizance of the matter, he said.
"I am going to issue summons to the DGP and the Chief Secretary and going to ask them to appear before the commission at Delhi," Murugan said.
The elder girl, 13, was found hanging at her home at Walayar on January 13, 2017, while her nine-year-old sister was found dead in the same manner on March 4 that year.
The autopsy report revealed that the sisters were sexually assaulted.
A POCSO Court in Palakkad had on October 25 acquitted V Madhu (27), M Madhu (27) and Shibu (43) for lack of evidence. Another accused Pradeep Kumar was also acquitted earlier for lack of evidence. A 17-year-old is one of the remaining accused and the juvenile court will consider his case on November 15.
Meanwhile, union minister V Muraleedharan said the state needs to reinvestigate the case and CBI probe was not required at the moment.
He also sought intervention of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and met its member Priyanka Kanungo. Muraleedharan said he has requested the commission to visit the area.
The BJP has already started a 100-hour strike at Palakkad against the state government.
"The police has become the B-team of CPI(M). The child welfare committees of the state have also become government welfare committees. The government is not trying to catch the culprits.
Victims need justice...here they (government) are with the criminals," BJP leader Kummanam Rajashekharan said.
DGP assures action
DGP Loknath Behra said it was a serious matter and action will "definitely" be taken.
"This is a very serious matter. There is no doubt in that. It's also an emotional one. Two minor children are the victims. So we are very serious about this," Behra said.
Workers of the BJP and Congress-led UDF are out on the streets demanding justice for the deceased siblings.
On Tuesday, the secretariat march of the Yuva Morcha, the BJP's youth wing, turned violent at Thiruvananthapuram with protesters trying to break the police barricades.
Police used water cannons to disperse them.
The Opposition had yesterday disrupted Assembly proceedings over the acquittal of the accused in the case saying the police and prosecution failed in punishing them
The opposition also demanded a CBI inquiry.
Though Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured the House that the government would seriously consider the matter, the Opposition staged a walkout, dissatisfied with his reply.
(With PTI inputs)